The Allegory of Avery Wan and the Sun
Avery Wan lived in a dark room, only she didn’t know it was a dark room. It was all she knew, so she thought it was what existence was.
One day Avery noticed that there was something in the room that had always been there, but that she only now saw was not the same as the as-yet-unlabeled darkness. How could she not have noticed there were two where she thought there was one? No matter. Now she knew. She labeled what she was used to “darkness” and this newly-in-her-conscious-awareness presence “light”.
Because it was new to her awareness, she was drawn to look at the light. She was happy to feel she knew something more about existence. The more she looked at the light, the more distinct it became from the darkness, and the more she was baffled that she hadn’t seen this before. It’s so obvious!
What’s more, she found the light to be more appealing than the darkness. She suspected that the light had helped her tolerate the darkness all along. So she lived for a while happily aware that her room was not just darkness, but light as well. Her understanding of existence had shifted a bit.
And then one day she became aware that the light was a little stronger in one spot in the room. This was curious! She liked learning more about existence, so she went toward this spot. And as she approached she realized it was an opening—and it was the source of the light.
She fell back, her heart pounding. The light had a source outside of the room she knew! If she went through the opening, existence as she knew it would end. She would die.
She backed away from the opening and tried to forget about it and live in darkness and light as she had done for so long. But it was too late. She could not forget what she saw. She clearly did not know all there was to know about existence, and this bothered her, because this meant she did not know all there was to know about herself. Logic told her that if she had lived with the light all along, as she now knew she had, its source surely would not kill her.
And logic told her that she was correct that existence as she knew it would end. But that did not mean she would cease to exist. A different experience of existence did not mean death.
Avery walked back and forth in front of the opening in her room for a while, gathering courage to look into it. Oh, the light drew her! Not only was she curious to know more about existence, and therefore herself, but she valued the light more than the darkness. However the darkness, though not so desirable, was comfortable in its familiarity.
Oh, the conflict! What moved her in the end was the awareness that she could never settle for only the bit of light she had already known. She could not go back to the way things had been. So, with a deep breath, she plunged her head into the opening—and saw a long hallway. Dimly, at the end of the hall, she could see the source of the light.
So she was not going to plunge right into the unknown source of light after all. She could walk to it, at her own pace, in her own time, learning more about it, and developing trust in it if it turned out to be trustworthy.
Happily, she willingly stepped into the hallway. There was more light here than there had been in the room she just left, but it was still mostly dark. The structure of the hallway was also familiar. She felt reassured that she would not lose herself in this hallway and this emboldened her to step forward, toward the light, and away from the room and experience of existence that she had known.
Behind her was greater darkness; in front of her was greater light. Sometimes she fell into doubt about the source of the light and turned back toward the dark room. But this did not last long as she remembered how it would never satisfy her. Sometimes she stopped in the hallway, torn between the comfort and familiarity of darkness and the knowledge and perhaps greater experiences she would find in the light. But, eventually, she moved on again toward the light.
And, indeed, in time, as the hallway became lighter and no harm came to her—in fact, she found the light more and more desirable—she stopped less and looked back not at all.
One day, without realizing it, she found she was in another room, this one lighter than any part of the hallway had been. There seemed no place else to go. Here was the source of light in the hallway and dark room! She stopped and rested as she had not done since she left the dark room. But she had to admit, though relieved, she was a bit underwhelmed. The room was familiar, made of the same stuff as the dark room and hallway. And she had grown accustomed to, and even trusted, the light. So it was not, after all, such a big deal to be in just another room that was lighter than it was dark.
When she had her fill of rest she looked about and became aware that this room was not the source of light after all. Light poured into it from somewhere beyond, illuminating the whole room, the hallway, and, dimly, even the dark room at the other end.
Avery was nervous again. She may have been underwhelmed when she thought the recognizable room was the source of light, but now she had to again confront the unknown. She inched toward the source of light. Unlike the opening in the dark room, which had been nearly undetectable in the darkness, this one was obvious and gaping. As she approached she realized she could see through it and made out a brilliant vista of boundless green meadows and endless blue sky. It was breathtaking.
But try as she might she could not go through this opening. It had an invisible but hard barrier she called “glass”.
But what did it matter? The light! The view! It was stunning and beautiful and uplifting. Nothing in the darkness had been like this. She had been right to seek the light. This room was so much better than the dark room had been. And she would now spend the rest of her time sitting by the glass, looking at the view. Avery was happy and satisfied.
Well. Almost. Truly, she longed to be in the scene before her. Just as the light had always done, it pulled at her still. But was it wise to want more light than she already had? Endless rolling hills and sky would truly be very different from the limited space between walls she had always inhabited. Yet they beckoned her as though they were Home.
While enjoying the view one day she noticed something had changed. Could it be…? She stretched out her hand and found the glass was gone. And suddenly she was sucked through! She was in the boundless green meadow with the endless blue sky arching over her!
She was disoriented; she could hardly catch her breath. It was a completely different experience of existence here, because she was not in the light; she was the light. She illuminated the meadow and sky—as she had unknowingly illuminated the light room, the hallway, and the dark room. The light had beckoned her because it was her Self.
Avery looked back at the structure that had once been her home and saw how insignificant it was. None of it mattered anymore—not the dark room, the hallway, or even the light room and glass. It was fading in her sight and would do so until it disappeared completely.
She returned her attention to the meadow and sky. Oh, the beauty, the peace, the joy! Her search to understand existence and herself was over. This was it. And what she learned was: She was not existence. The light—her Self—had no beginning and no ending, but the meadow and sky, just like the limited structure she had all but forgotten, would disappear one day.
For the meadow and sky were not the source of light either. They were dim reflections of her actual Home and only prepared her for the Glory of It, Which surpassed anything in existence. Her Source was Something Else; Something that had no beginning and no ending. She called It the “Sun.”
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